Old Diary

Time to Move On

Our month in Milwaukee is at an end. It’s been a good month, and if nothing else we’ve gotten out of our Highland Ridge routine — by golly, we’ve gotten out of any kind of routine at all!october19 So, even if our month weren’t up, it would be a good time to start heading South. We need the motivation of new sights and sounds.

We’ve been trying to keep up with our walking, but we haven’t been as diligent as we should have been. It’s easy to find excuses, but the fact of the matter is we haven’t been “good” and it’s time to get  back on our program.

This first leg of our trip is the longest. Our other daily drives should all be under 300 miles, if not by a lot, at least by a little.  These being roads we’re most familiar with, I’m not minding a slightly longer drive and too-familiar-scenery. In the past we were accustomed to having friends in Springfield IL. This is our first time to drive this route in a decade with no friends to visit along the way.


It was a beautiful start to the day as we prepared to leave Milwaukee.

Our overnight will be the Dam West campground — a Corps of Engineers site we’ve not visited before.  In fact, we’ll be stopping off at 4 such never-before-visited Corps campgrounds.  I’m looking forward to all of them. We haven’t explored any new Corps campgrounds since last Spring, but we’ve yet to find one that we haven’t liked.


The dam here at the Carlyle Reservoir is one of the longest dams I’ve seen. You cant see them, but there are is a raft of American Pelicans staging here on their journey South — must be over a hundred!

It’ll be two nights at all of our stops except for one stop that we don’t have reservations for — near Hot Springs — and that campground is walk-in’s only this time of year.

The campground here is typical CORPS quality.  In this case all the sites are paved.  There is electric but not water or sewer at the sites.  They are nicely spaced and there’s a fair amount of tree cover — Maples and Oaks.  It seems we always end up in Illinois during autumn underneath large oaks.  Ding.  Clunk. Clatter.  Those little acorns make a racket on an RV rooftop! 🙂


Clearly some of our campers here are ready for Halloween!

We had left the hubbub of Milwaukee on a sunny morning, but we arrived in Carlyle in the rain.  It hadn’t run into us long before arriving but once here we listened to the combined pitter patter of acorns and raindrops on the roof all through the night. It’s supposed to dry out a little tomorrow.  I’m hoping.  We still seem to be rain magnets.

Thanks for stopping, and I’ll be here again tomorrow.  Why not check in and see what’s happening.

Old Diary

There’s always something…

We both woke up in the middle of the night on Friday because the bedroom TV was still on.  Which is to say that no program was playing but the screen was illuminated.  There we had a dead remote; or I guess it was the TV that was dead, not the remote.  No matter what I did I could not get the TV to turn off.  Disconnect from the wall, and when I plugged it back in the screeen lit up again, not bothering to wait for a click on the remote.  Not a good sign.

The TV in the  bedroom is newer than the coach but older than our ownership of the coach.  It’s a Seiki — which I haven’t seen very often in any retail outlets.  It’s also a 22 inch unit, which, if you’ve gone shopping for TV’s lately is kind of hard (or impossible) to find on a store shelf.  The movement towards larger and larger TV’s has resulted in a narrowing of the Small LED TV market.

20161017093340020Saturday (the Saturday before our scheduled departure from Milwaukee) became the day to go looking for a replacement.  My Friday troubleshooting pretty much ruled out a cheap repair for a TV we never cared for in the first place; so a replacement was in the cards.  Luckily Milwaukee has some retail variety and after 5 stops at different stores we found a Vizio we were willing to purchase:  close to the right size (24″ not 22″), with plug-ins where they would be accessible on a cabinet mount,  still using 120vac — I’m starting to see TV’s with plug-in transformers converting to 6vdc, and a menu system that I liked.  It’s also cheap enough that an inexpensive extended warranty will get us a replacement TV and not a repair.

The challenge was getting it installed before we left town and I was once again without tools!  Fortunately I wrangled some time with my SIL, Michael, who’s chop saw made quick and neat work of the cross pieces, his nailer and wood glue assured a solid platform on which to mount the (7.2 lb) TV.

After letting it sit overnight, an hour on Monday morning saw the project completed and ready for the road.  We could not find a single 22″ screen in town.  The only 19″ sets we found were from Insignia and Element and I wasn’t very happy with the color or with the menu system — so a 24″ set loomed as the logical choice.

The cabinet facing is only 21 inches across, so any 24 inch set was going to have to be a surface mount.  I’ll figure out how to use the recessed cabinet some time in the future.  Perhaps it’ll get used for secret storage or something… I dunno….

Once again life is a compromise.  I didn’t want to remanufacture the whole driver’s side of the bedroom; all I wanted was a usable TV with a menu system that would easily detect air channels (for when we are parked without a satellite window) and satellite signals for most of the time.  The one real drawback that I experienced with the Seiki was scanning for channels.  Yes — it picked up more stations than the Vizio up front — but it picked up marginal stations with signals too weak to actually provide a picture on the screen.  The result was that we looked as if we had a lot of channels but we’d have to go in after the scan and delete all the stations that were too weak to display.  Just a little annoyance, but worth it for me to pay attention to the menu system when I was making a purchase decision.

I like the setup on the new one.  I scan for air TV, then input one channel — #4 to pick up the DISH feed and I’m done.  Easy Peasy.  Fast. And the picture quality is decent for a relatively inexpensive TV.

If you note in the photo there’s a black blob above the TV.  whoever did the Seiki install took a simple step to compensate for the differnce in aspect ratio between the original tube-type TV and that first digital — they placed a piece of hard but flexible plastic over the gap, held it in place with three machine screws and voila!  The new TV is larger but oddly enough the vertical height is almost the same. I left the plastic just where it had been and it was just fine for use with the new TV.20161017093338019

It’s not Rocket Surgery (mixing together those two great careers:  rocket science and brain surgery) and it works.  With luck I won’t have to deal with it again for a while.  I already attached the HDMI cable and the Ethernet cable in case I want to connect the set to something else.   In the past I used the TV as a monitor for my file server, and I do have an Ethernet network in the coach — so if I find the need/use/desire for greater connectivity it’s there, waiting to be used.

Old Diary

Stories about People

What do you do when you’re sitting in your RV looking out the window?  We’ve been here at the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park for almost all of our intended month and as always when time to move on approaches I get antsy.  When I get antsy I start thinking about an entirely different array of subjects than normal; it’s a manifestation of how antsy I am.

With no volunteer gig at this place, we have no hard routine.  With no hard routine we habitually dawdle over breakfast.  Our other meals may be more orderly:  I cook, we sit down to eat, we chat a little over our meal and then we get up from the table on go on with the day. But at breakfast we eat and sit and chat and chat some more; sometimes longer, other  times a shorter time — but we always sit for a chat.

While talking we notice what the neighbors are doing and make up stories about those people.  Do you ever do that?  Do you ever imagine what their lives are like?

mom-and-dad-at-homeMy dear mother did. Dad had purchased an apartment building which I helped him maintain.  They occupied an apartment on the ground floor, facing the front of the building.  Perhaps not the typical location for a “Super’s” apartment, but certainly the location for the “Owner.” Directly across from our building was another 12 family apartment, on a block of 3 and 4 family apartment buildings.  There were a lot of families; plenty to watch and plenty to be seen.  And mom had a bay window on the world from which she could sit and make up her stories.

Mom knew the schedules of many of them, specially those living in the building across the street from us.  Some were her favorites. Rita had MS and she also had a mobility chair in the days when not a lot of folks had them.  Mom would see her 2 miles away from the house, crossing 4 lane streets in her mobility chair and she was amazed at her courage. I think that inspired more courageous stories about Rita.  Mom knew the hours of work for various husbands and wives;  she monitored the growth of children; she noticed changes in family relationships.  She didn’t “gossip” about them, but I often heard her telling dad what was happening as if she was a reporter on camera.  I can’t tell you how many times I laughed at something that had become her way of life — her oral “book” about the lives of our neighbors.

Add a few years to the calendar, stick us out on the RV “road” in various campgrounds and guess what?  The two of us find ourselves doing the same thing.  It’s all short term — you realize.  Our neighbors aren’t our neighbors for very long — at least not usually.  But we still find stories to tell each other.  We know they are fictional.  But they are fun nontheless.

This weekend we have a 30-40 something couple across the aisle from us.  They hold hands.  He opens the car door for her.  He brings flowers.  They’re cute.  Looks like they are leaving today; we’ll miss them.  They brought a smile to our face.

Sometimes we know more about our neighbors. Another pair of neighbors come from Arkansas; they have jobs in town, they’ll be her until next March, they have one child who is home schooled. Knowing the backstory spoils the storytelling.  When we know the story it’s no fun making up another tale.  It just doesn’t work.  Why make up a story when you know the truth?

I wonder, sometimes, if “knowing the truth” is the problem with american politics?  We know what the media tell us;  we choose which of the media we (individually) choose to credit with our trust.  The question of whether what we are told is truth seems rarely to be asked, even more rarely answered. It must be true, it’s on TV, or it comes from this source, or that source. We fact-check the people we distrust but we rarely fact check the ones we trust.  Answers to our fact-checking depend on which media we consult for research — so we can build error into our fact-checking by consulting fallible sources.  In the end, we think we know the truth but we have no certainty of our convictions:  we only have certainty of our opinion.  And we’ll fight with others who have similar certainty over their opinion.  And, of course, no one wants to accept that there could be absolute truth because our society has thrown absolutes out a good many years ago.

I have to say, I’d rather make up stories about my RV neighbors than about other people. The RV-neighbor-stories I know are fictional;  I know I made them up for fun, with minimal evidence, just to pass the time of day, and I’m not going to share them with others, and one day soon the subjects of my stories are going to move on and I’ll forget all about them and about my make-believe stories.

It’s harder to do that with politicians;  they seem to hang around a lot longer.  And we lose our ability to laugh over our make-believe stories; in fact we endow our stories with credibility, and we make decisions based on them.  I find that scary.

Life isn’t an RV park.  Family and friends aren’t short time neighbors.  Politicians aren’t short time neighbors.  It’s good to separate fun from reality.  It’s good to separate fiction from fact.  I never said it was easy…. but it’s good.

Thanks for stopping.  I’ll be here again tomorrow to chat, why not stop and see what’s up?

Old Diary

Winter Stock-Up Accomplished

Thursday morning we woke to 38º and sun.  Our high for the day was forecast to be only 55º and it was a good day to get our pre-trip stocking up out of the way.  Three stores later we were ready with those items that we missed last time in S. Texas.  5 lbs of whole bean coffee, corned beef, nuts, a molasses granola — not a lot of items but comfort food items I guess.

We’re making a point of getting in our daily walk — mostly at the mall but we’re keeping moving! I’m looking foward to the warmer temps down south and hoping to get in more outdoor walking.  I’m such a wimp when it comes to walking in the cool.  I’ll do it when I have to — at Highland Ridge I had no choice but to get out each morning and hang reservation cards and it made sense to do that circle through the campground on foot.  Here I actually have to tell myself:  “GET OUT!”  Without the gig,  it’s easy to get lazy…. mumble, mumble, mumble.

Friday Peg has a play date with her buddies.  I’ll be batch’ing it for the evening.  In years gone buy I’d use the opportunity to go out for a fish fry.  Now, however, with the emphasis on losing some more weight, the idea isn’t as appealing to me.

Which brings me to something completely different.


  • Wisconsin, more particularly MILWAUKEE!
  • After church
  • 1 lb. of Hot Ham
    (nothing more ‘special’ than pre-sliced pullman ham — packaged in 1lb. aluminum foil insulated baggies — it really does arrive at home still hot!)
  • 1/2 doz free sandwich rolls
    (Kaiser Rolls for the purist)
  • a tradition!

It’s a strange little thing this infatuation with “Hot Ham and Rolls” that you get in Milwaukee.  They say it’s an after church ‘thing’ but I suspect that really means it’s an after MASS thing.  Milwaukee was heavily Polish for a long while and the Poles are heavily Catholic.  Even though there are more Germans (who tend to be Lutheran) in Milwaukee (at the turn of the 20th Century 75% of all the business in Milwaukee was done in the German language — there were THAT many Germans in town) than Poles this seems to be more of a Polish than German thing. Minnesota has the ‘hot dish’, NY has ‘beef on wech’, other states have their unique foods as well.  In Wisconsin it’s Friday Fish Fry, and in Milwaukee it’s Hot Ham on a Kaiser Roll.

hungarian-pot-roast-slideMe?  I’m Polish.  I went to church. Dad hated sammiches!  Mom always had a hot, cooked dinner on the table after church!  I know nothing from Ham & Rolls!

What I do remember was pot roast with noodles! Thrown in some time after the pot roast was partially cooked, the raw noodles would cook in the pot liquor from the roast and were obviously overcooked after a couple hours in the oven — but also definitely infused with all the goodness and some of the fat from the roast.  Not a low calorie meal; not very high in fiber or vitamins; but those egg noodles were to die for!  It wasn’t Hungarian, or Polish, or French or anything — it was just roast beef with noodles and pan juices.  Yum Oh!

On a non fattening wavelength…


The Hover Camera — program it to follow a body or a face. Imagine the uses for a dedicated stalker!

Technology is coming for you… I mean it’s coming to get you!  I saw two little videos that scared the living daylights out of me.  One is for a miniature hovercraft that flies itself and can be operated from a smartphone. I know this selfie-obsessed-nation is infatuated with themselves, but there is something really weird about putting a little baby drone up in the air to follow you around and take your own picture.

The second items is the that you can use to power any kind of electric or electronic hardware. — It’s a fully functional $5.00 Linux computer.  This idea has revolution written all over it.  I mean, sure, there are revolutionary implications to such a simple fully cloud integrated operating system that runs on Linux.  But there are also fully revolutionary implications as well.  omega2-computerI’m going to be interested to see how this plays out.  We’re at the point where we can do the most outrageous things with technology.  The question is, to what use will we put them?

Well, that’s all the further I’m going today.  I’ve been enjoying a 6 months of someone else paying our WiFi fees — First 5 months of free DSL through the CORPS, and now a month of in-park WiFi — Next month I’m going to have to actually pay attention to how much bandwidth I use.  Silly boy….

Alexa this and Alexa that…

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-9-16-46-amI was shopping Amazon for a last minute purchase — something I could have delivered before we leave Milwaukee — and the automatic adverts landed me in another world.  I was already awed sufficiently by the $5.00 computer and the baby drone, and then I was inundated by Echo ads.  You already know that I don’t pay attention to TV commercials — I’ve confessed that along with a lot of other character faults of mine.  But looking at the online ad I realized that I’ve been seeing pictures for Amazon’s product called ECHO and I had no idea what it was.  screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-8-23-17-amSo I paid attention this morning.

I noticed that they say it’s easy to set up and to use.  And I thought “Sure, sure.”


My 1980’s Kaypro!

I remember the days when my Kaypro computer came with manuals weighing in at twice the weight of that heavy old computer!  For all the things they tell you it can do for you surely there are going to be manuals — and of course — there aren’t.


All you need is internet connectivity… Seems you can’t do anything at all without Internet connectivity anymore.screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-8-22-49-am  It turns out that you talk to your Echo — calling it Alexa — why they couldn’t get that right from the get-go is beyond me.  Couldn’t they have named the Echo as Alexa instead?   Anyway…. you talk to your echo and it does stuff for you.  Instead of getting out of bed to turn off my bedroom lights I can ask Alexa to turn them off.  I suppose I could have done the same with a Clapper. the-clapper (Circa 1980’s I guess) But time moves on and we all have to move along with it. I’m unsure how much the interface costs to allow me to remotely turn on a single circuit but I’m sure it’s more than the cost of a Clapper.  Alexa will turn off my TV (isn’t that what remotes are for?)screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-8-22-38-am

If I want to reach beyond simple gadges I can interface with the world from the convenience of my Barcalounger.  I can get Automatic to tell me if I need gas.  Who is Automatic anyway?  And how do they know if I need gas?  I can listen to the latest Huffpost headlines, or find out if my 401K has tanked along with the rest of the stock market.  Oh my, Oh my.  This is surely going to make a world full of speed-heads even more paranoid about what’s happening around them.

Of course, as a Full Time RV’er I don’t have to worry about any of this.  I’m paying for 30 gigs of WiFi per month and just doing the stuff I’ve already been doing I usually get right to the limit of my monthly WiFi allottment even without streaming movies.  I don’t know if this kind of technology will ever (within the foreseeable future — or as long as I’m RV’ing) become feasible (spell that:  “A-F-F-O-R-D-A-B-L-E”) for the average Joe.  I know I can just about afford my monthly payments to Verizon as it is.

I come to believe that part of being a Full Time RV’er is knowing what you can do without.  In homes, in transportation, in technology…. and a lot of other ways. We have the choice of complicating our lives but with trimmed down kitchens, and limited storage it’s not possible to have all the toys that we might have when we were bound to sticks & bricks.  If you’re at all like me, this has been liberating.  But not without the ponder:  have I left myself in a place where I’m becoming obsolete just because I can’t stay current of technology?  Or do I need to stay current — at this point in life.  Because, of course, none of us knows whether we’ll be around for 2 minutes or 2 decades.

I think about my maternal grand mother who lived to 103.  She predated almost all the computers — I’m trying to remember if I even had my Kaypro when she was around.  Of all the older people I have ever known for some reason she is my touchstone about what it means to age gracefully. She didn’t complain; she adjusted to life. There was one year — almost 365 days precisely when she was not herself.  Right about 100 years she had hip surgery and when she came out of the anesthetic she was like a different person.  She stayed in that altered persona for almost exactly 1 year and suddenly she went back to the sparkling old gal she’d been before.  No one ever adequately explained the 1 year’s aberration; I was just glad to have her back.  Aside from that short period she was generous, kind, understanding — even when I had a hard time communicating with her in English when Polish was still an easier tongue for her than her adopted English. She didn’t gossip.  She accepted people for who they were.  And she loved life, and food, and friends.  If I do as well as she did — I’ll be more than happy. She needed no technology — I’m not as advanced and civilized as she was.  I still seem to need my digital persona.  But …. I think I can do with out Echo, and Alexa, and a lot of the toys and tools that merchandisers are trying to sell me. I’ll give it a good try, anyway….

Have a great day, and I’ll be here to chat in the morning.  Why not stop by and see what’s up!

Old Diary

Need less stuff

For a smart guy I’m a slow learner!  Pure and simple.  I’m a slow learner.  Repeat with me:  “I’m a slow learner.”

One might think that downsizing from a house/office with 6500 sq ft to 230 sq ft, and then, so what if we bought an RV just a little bigger and now live in 300 sq ft — that in the process of all that downsizing that I’d learn my lesson.  But I stand here (or actually I’m sitting here typing away…) once again facing the reality that I have to get out of the RV and sort out the basement so that we’re ready to move in a week.  I hate it because — just like a house — the basement storage area can be just as unsightly as the unfinished basement in a sticks & bricks home!  In a real basement you may have to duck your head on the way down — I have to get down on all fours to get into the storage bay doors.  In a real basement things may be scattered around helter-skelter — and our storage bays are pretty helter-skelter-y too!  Organizing a basement — whether a stationary one or one on wheels — never seems to be any fun, or the least bit rewarding — it’s something you have to do from time to time.

sliding-drawersA year and a half ago I thought we’d have those sliding trays installed in our basement.  But after I thought about it a little, I realized that the drawers sit proud of the basement floor far enough that we’d lose a good 30% of storage space in the process.  The “cost” in lost space was more than I was willing to suffer and I cancelled that plan.  Good idea, not good implementation. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I have seen RV’ers who have made their own sliding trays, but unlike the RV’s where that has worked nicely, our bay floors are not flush with the bottom of the door, so we’d still have to lose a lot of space — once again torpedoing my goal for more organized storage.

The big problem though — and I guess I’ve known it all along — is that we simply carry too much ‘stuff’ along with us.  I’m sure that other RV’er share the trait but there is something psychological about getting rid of so much stuff — and then remembering what it was like when you lived in sticks & bricks and all the maintenance and breakdowns you lived thorugh in your life and you just think you need to carry some of those tools and gadgets along with you even if you are rarely going to use them.

I carry two small 10 ton jacks — just in case I ever have a flat.  But that’s stupid.  If I ever have a flat I’m not going to change the tire myself.  And if I have something else that needs fixing I’m not all that handy with a wrench — so getting underneath the coach is not like it’s something ought to be doing!  I think I’ll give them to Michael — he could probably put them to use.

I carry a 140′ long water hose.  Why?  I don’t know.  I bought it when we lived in the school and we had only one water bib outside.  I didn’t want to sell it or give it away, so I brought it along just in case we ever were forced to park more than 50′ from a drinking water source.  Of course in 5 years that has never happened, and I have probably spent as much in diesel fuel carrying that extra weight around as the hose cost in the first place.

I know RV’ers who carry a whole machine shop in their RV — some of them are actually handy with tools and save themselves a lot of money on repair costs — doing a lot of their own maintenance.  That’s not me.  I’m a klutz with a capital “K”.

Even inside the coach I keep things I don’t need.  Computer cables — it seems that I’m not satisfied with a spare this, and that; I suspect that there are some cables I might have 4 or 5 of — I just don’t know it.  I threaten to take a day or two and just sort out all my cable and get rid of the excess, but in 5 years I’ve not gotten around to it.  Maybe in S. Texas?  Don’t hold your breath.

I’ve been known to procrastinate. When we were living in the apartment on 14th street for 35 years I remodelled a bathroom.  mop-boardDid a nice job for a 1980’s remodel, even if I do say so myself.  I panelled the bathroom in teak veneer and built a custom indirect lighting fixture when we couldn’t find what we wanted in the store.  But I finished up everything in the bathroom except for installing the vinyl mop boards.  And I ignored them.  For 5 years.  And finally after 5 years I finished the ‘remodel’ by installing them in about 2 hours.  Why did I wait 5 years?  I have no idea.  The job didn’t take long — I knew it wouldn’t.  I just couldn’t get myself convinced that those silly mop boards were all that important to stop what I was doing and get out the tools all over again.  It made no sense, but humans aren’t always logical. Me in particular.

gratitude-is-the-cureI don’t know… maybe if I think about this subject long enough I’ll finally get mad enough with myself to actually change.  Thus far when I have followed through and gotten rid of things I realized we weren’t using I have not had to replace them.  That old adage about “if you haven’t used something in a year, you don’t need it” is pretty much gospel.  Whether it’s tools or something else I can’t tell you how many times I have gone out and bought something I already owned because I couldn’t find it.  Too much stuff just gets lost. The brain, no matter how good one is at remembering, simply misplaces things.

It’s supposed to rain again today.  He says even though we are below average for the month.  Maybe I’ll get down in the basement and tackle some of this instead of just talking abou it. 😳😳😳

Thanks for stopping,  I’ll be here tomorrow if you want to stop and check out what’s up.7dd80ec1ad43d5f664aa970f79616ba2


Old Diary

Forgetting about Weekends

Retired life is like an obstacle course littered with hurdles — the hurdles are weekends. As a retiree I’m not the first to discover that days of the week needn’t have much meaning — one day can be, and often is, just like the next.  But the rest of the world seems to like these 7 day cycles called weeks and finding a campsite (even during the off season) can be challenging.  I’m always getting “stuck” because other people seem to want to do things on Saturdays and Sundays and the days catch me off guard.


Looks like we’ll end up at Carlyle Lake instead of our original plan…

So it was that my route Southward, which I had settled amicably, has now been tweaked.  Even in the off-season the Corps wants reservations for Friday AND Saturday nights on weekends. That wasn’t going to work for us. Other campgrounds we thought to stop at have already been closed (all the IOWA CORPS campgrounds have been closed for 2 weeks already).  So I got out my Magic Twanger (for anyone who remembers the line: “Pluck your magic twanger, Froggy” — but I don’t know how many people remember Andy Devine OR the program Andy’s Kids)

It wasn’t a huge thing, to change plans, just something that I forgot about because…. yup… I wasn’t thinking about those silly days of the week.  In the end I’m glad for the change.  From youth on it always seemed that the first day or two from home on family vacations we always put on a lot of miles.  The “concept” was that we were familiar with the roads and didn’t need to spend much time seeing them over and over again — so mom and dad would often do a 24 hour marathon drive to “get someplace” we weren’t familiar with and our vacation or roadtrip started there. Sort of. Never mind the mad 24 hour dash to get there — not exactly relaxing!!!!

Our original plan had been a short day (164 miles) to Thomson Causeway.  Maybe I was subconsciously longing for the old days?  Or maybe I needed to get further along on the first day?  I don’t know.  All I know is that now we’ll be heading straight South first, and then angle off to the west.  Doing it this way we’ve cut one overnight stop out of our route (making two slightly longer driving days) and we’ve trimmed the overall mileage by making the route slightly direct.  All of our stops can be multiple nights in one place and we won’t spend any nights with Uncle Wally.  😃🤔i-55

We aren’t quite ready to leave yet.  We still have a meeting with our investment guy. I hate talking about money; ever. It’s not a conversation I’ll enjoy but it needs doing once or twice a year.  As we home in on Peggy’s 70 1/2 years the 401K is going to start doing different things and we need to understand what that means to us. Given my attitude about money it’s not surprising that we’ve done all of our other chores and this is the only unfinished chore remaining.  I’d be happy if the world didn’t use money — but I guess I’d be the only one.

Peg has a play-date with a couple gal-pals later in the week.  I’ll pack away the paper shredder and try to get the basement in order for the migration south and a week from now we’ll crank up Serendipity and mosey towards warmer weather.

Thanks for stopping, and check in tomorrow to see what we got up to today.

Old Diary

What is a Rustic Road

Whether or not you are an RV’er, if you’re traveled through Wisconsin on any road other than the Interstate chances are pretty good you’ve seen signs advertising Rustic Roads. Wisconsin seems to be the only state that I have found with a state funded “Rustic Road” program. rustic-roads It’s a program that’s been underway for 40 years and it celebrates the bucolic old roads that once were typical of out-state Wisconsin.

What is a Rustic Road?

According to the state, every Rustic Road is unique, but all:

  • have outstanding natural features along its borders such as rugged terrain, native vegetation, native wildlife or include open areas with agricultural vistas.
  • are lightly traveled local access roads, serving the adjacent property owners and those wishing to travel by auto, bicycle, or hiking for purposes of recreational enjoyment.
  • are not scheduled nor anticipated for major improvements which would change their rustic characteristics.
  • are at least two miles long and often provide a completed closure or loop, or connect to major highways at both ends of the route.

A Rustic Road may be dirt, gravel or paved road. It may be one-way or two-way. It also may have bicycle or hiking paths adjacent to or incorporated in the roadway area.

The maximum speed limit on a Rustic Road has been established by law at 45 mph. A speed limit as low as 30 mph may be established by the local governing authority.

How do you know if it’s a Rustic Road?

Unique brown and yellow signs mark the routes of all officially-designated Rustic Roads. A small placard beneath the Rustic Roads sign identifies each Rustic Road by its numerical designation within the total statewide system.

Each Rustic Road is identified by a 1- to 3-digit number assigned by the Rustic Roads Board. To avoid confusion with the State Trunk Highway numbering, a letter “R” prefix is used such as R-50 or R-120. WisDOT pays the cost of furnishing and installing Rustic Roads marking signs.rustic-roads-map

There are 119 of these routes, spread throughout the state.  When we see them, I’m always inclined to hop on and go for a short drive, just for the nostalgia of it.  Some of them are less than one mile long, others travel a dozen or more miles, the majority seem to be between 5 and 10 miles.

Next time you’re going through Wisconsin,  go online and find the Rustic Road guide in PDF  form.  And while you’re in the state take some time and step back a few years with a drive along some of our Rustic Roads.  There’s nothing exciting about them. That’s the point.  They serve as a reminder of a quieter and gentler time when neighbors were neighborly, and the pace of life invited conversation and frienship — not rushing around like a chicken with your head cut off.

We like ’em.  I hope you do to.

Thanks for stopping, and I’ll be here again tomorrow to chat.

Old Diary

Genetic Roulette

“All is vanity.”  Those words, the opening lines of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes have been very much on my mind this last week with hurricanes in the news and with our walks at the mall.  I’m truly struck by how much of who we are — or who we think we are — has nothing whatever to do with who we are and more to do with the accidents of genetics.

The beautiful aren’t beautiful because of anything they do.  The tall aren’t tall because of any skill they possess.  In many cases the poor aren’t poor or the rich aren’t rich because of their efforts or talent.  In too many cases around the world we are who we are because we happened to be born under a luck star, or a not so lucky star.


refugees fleeing Syria

Life has never been easy for refugees.  History is full of tragic stories about the never-never-land that refugess fall into — but we’ve seen a lot in the media recently about their plight.20161006145251867 The thing is, the only thing preventing you or I from having been one of these unfortunates is the accident of genetics that made us, us, or them, them.

We’ve had some fatalities — sad as that is — because of Hurricane Matthew.  What we won’t hear too much about are the many more fatalities suffered in the Carribbean as a result of the same storm.20161006145230866  That’s their problem. Or so it would seem based on the way the media coverage seems to work.

And yet, there’s nothing particular to separate us from them.  Nor to separate those of us who live away from the ocean from those who’s homes have been ruined in NC, or GA, or wherever because of the recent storm.  Pride can be a pretty ugly thing, and much of the time we can be completely unaware of the suffering of others because we are locked away in our homes, intent on our jobs, preoccupied with our family dramas and we just don’t look around at what surrounds us.

Different places have their own rhythm.  This has been studied by universities and what they’ve “figured out” is that the more people around you the faster — in general — the pace of life in that place. Milwaukee is busier than Spring Valley, but not as hectic as Chicago.  Chicago is hectic, but not nearly as frantic as New York City or Los Angeles.  The pace is similar in other countries but if you live in a city of the same size in, say Britain, or France, you won’t find an identical pace, merely a similar one: faster than smaller towns, generally slower than larger cities.

By nature I prefer backroads.  I love to see small towns, meet the people who live at a slower pace than in the City.  But taking the back roads, particularly the state and county highways instead of Federal highways exposes you to the fabric of this country. If you’ve ever done much travel by rail you’ve noted that the rail lines always show you the backbone of this nation.  More so than European railways where there are more lines devoted to passengers compared to industry.  Travel by rail shows you the slums and the industry, you get to see the rusty underbelly of the U.S.   And travel on the back roads of America similarly reveals the heart of the people.  You see what they throw away, and what they refuse to throwaway.  You see where they hang out and where they avoid.  The difference between travel by Interstate and backroads is the like reading censored mail.  The Interstates “refuse” to show you the real United States.

I’m looking forward to our route South this fall.  We have the time to wander a little and I’m looking forward to routes I never would have taken in a truck and have never taken by car.  At least a few of them.  We’re planning a route with primarily single travel days followed by a single day off.  We really don’t like to travel several days in a row, and this year we don’t need to.

I could have given us a month or month and a half to make the trip but you know… this year I actually want to get to Les Fresnos early. So an October 19th departure is planned to get us to our destination on November 1. 1700 miles, and 2 weeks.  Not fast, not slow.  But one thing for sure.  As we work our way South, through the heartland of the U.S. we’ll be mindful of the fact that we are fortunate to live this lifestyle, and to live it in the U.S., and to be reasonably healthy, and have food in our belly.  There are a lot of things we aren’t, but what we are is thankful for the accidents of genetics that made us who we are, at the time in history when we live.  I hope you’re grateful too.  We all have a lot to be thankful for.

I’ll talk with you again tomorrow.